Rafa Mainez is a sports journalist specialized in the Spanish football third division (Primera RFEF) and semi-pro leagues that currently works for both the newspaper and radio Marca, where he serves as the productive chief of radio show La Pizarra de Quintana and runs his own show, Balón de Bronce.
Rafa Mainez has become the most known journalist in Spain for semi-pro leagues in the last few years, which has certainly increased the requests from several media to have him on board, as he explains himself. Fortunately for us, it is a truly pleasure to have him live on our Twitch channel to talk with us and review the latest from the Spanish football third division.
Tell us how it all started
Rafa Mainez: Segunda B (Spanish third division old name) has provided me with the opportunity to get hired at Radio Marca. During the pandemic, I launched my own YouTube channel where it all started to change, as I was able to reach a lot of audience. That was my own ‘boom’, as clubs, players and coaches began to know me better.
Primera RFEF‘s current situation and a possible return to the Segunda B
Rafa Mainez: A hypothetical return to the Segunda B would have terrible consequences, specially financial wise. We are now going through uncertain times because we do not know which scenario will come up next. From a personal perspective, it has been togh for me to report on this possibility, as it makes me sad. For the Spanish football federation, the deal is clear. You either vote for the fair play agreement on the table, or we go back to the Segunda B.
“A hypothetical return to the Segunda B would have terrible consequences, specially financial wise”
However, my personal opinion is that I do not think that this would ended up being allowed because I hope that the clubs would go against that. In the end, despite the federation holds the competition, the clubs are the ones that play and the presidents and players are the main characters, which is why I am confident that clubs would refuse to go back to the Segunda B if worst case scenario came up.
Do you believe that this change could be imminent? Is it really legal for the federation to change the format of the competition?
Rafa Mainez: If you make a quick research, you realize right away that it is illegal until they vote for a new alteration of their statutes. Those current statutes state that they can’t make any change unless a real issue comes up. However, they are assuring me that this is a real scenario, but I also think that it is being used as a threat.
“They can’t make any change unless a real issue comes up”
Just a quick reminder that that yes or no impacts the TV rights and a prohibition of negotiating collective rights such as the clubs association… Those are aspects that the clubs would have to give in, and in the end the federation just wants to have a way to excuse themselves if it all gets screwed up, as it would all be based on what the clubs themselves had previously voted.
Do you believe that if the economical control got the green light, it could be a first step to professionalize the league?
Rafa Mainez: It would certainly be a key step to set up a foundation not only for the league to get fully professionalized, but also to have a unique group of teams in a few years. If it was in my hands, I would have continued with this current Primera Federación with a economical control up to 2025, and then just have a unique group, giving time to work out on relegations.
This way you can have a professional league, even though it first has to be approved by the Spanish Sports Council, and that is not a priority for them right now, as there are other sports to take care of in line.
From my own personal perspective, if the Segunda B went to return, I would probably drop the league, because I would be unable to cover it all and a good product couldn’t be made out of it with such many teams.
“If the Segunda B went to return, I would probably drop the league”
Do you think that LaLiga could enter the competition and run it some day?
Rafa Mainez: That is a possible scenario some day, but that day is certainly very far away, as for that to happen, the federation would have to give in the league, the Sports Council professionalize it, and then LaLiga to want to take over it. This is not an easy process and right now I see it very unlikely, unless they go with a single group in the short term.
Tell us a little bit about your current role at Radio Marca
Rafa Mainez: As the productive chief of the show La Pizarra de Quintana, I am in charge of getting the sounds, coordinate the interviews, create social media content, answering the calls… That is everything I take care of and I am very happy with my current position.
Regarding to Balón de Bronce, that is the show that excites me the most, as that is a show fully dedicated to talk about the Primera Federación.
Tell us how you got specialized in the Primera Federación
Rafa Mainez: I was lucky enough to get into Radio Marca, as I belonged to the last class to graduate and be accepted to make scholarships in the station. over there, we learned to do everything both competition and format wise. Once they were over, they offered me to cover the old Segunda B during the weekends and that is how I began to specialize in this category up to this day.
Regarding to my current position, I grew a lot on my YouTube channel during the pandemic, and that is why they offered me the productive chief role for La Pizarra de Quintana, which I am very happy with for having a specific task.
The importance of the new platforms such as Twitch and YouTube
Rafa Mainez: Nowadays these platforms offer us a huge opportunity to create our own personal brand. Constancy is key, as both the platform and the follower end up paying you off for your work. In the end, they are new tools to allow us to show our work, and that is always something positive.
“Primera Federación are increasing their media interest”
Rafa Mainez: There is also a huge opportunity to create content on this platforms about the semi-pro leagues, as the interest around these leagues is increasing. There are several players who already show up in these kind of platforms. You have a great opportunity to make yourself a name and I really admire that you guys at ELXIIDEAL have a very solid team with different roles.
Let’s go back to the latest from the league. What do you think of the current format compared to the old one?
Rafa Mainez: The best thing that could have happened is to change it. Maybe the moment was not the best one, but it was a necessary step. I believe that everyone involved (federation, clubs, players, coaches, fans and journalists) agrees with the fact that the level has improved a lot. The league is way more attractive now, specially for the players coming from outside the country.
“The new league is more attractive and the level has increased”
I do not disagree with the current format either. The only aspect I would change is to allow more teams from the league to go into the Spanish Cup, at least ten per group.
Your bets on the teams that will go up to the second division and the ones who will go down to relegation
Rafa Mainez: I am going to stick by the bets I made at the beginning of the season. Córdoba and Eldense will go up directly. Playoffs from Group I will be formed by Alcorcón, Castilla, Dépor and Celta B. Group II, Castellón, Real Murcia, Real Sociedad B and Barça Athletic.
Relegation, Group I Ceuta, Pontevedra, San Fernando, Fuenlabrada and Unionistas. Grupo II, Calahorra, Bilbao Athletic, La Nucía, Real Unión and UD Logroñés.
What would be your ‘Ideal XI’ of the season in the Primera Federación with the players that have surprised you the most
Goalkeeper: Salvi Carrasco.
Defense: Manu Sánchez (lateral derecho), Miguel Brau (lateral izquierdo), Fran Morante y Jon García (centrales).
Midfield: Mario Martín, Sergio Ortuño y Cristian Rodríguez.
Forward: Mario Soberón, Gabri Martínez y Pablo García.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.